Bassline Baseline is a video essay that investigates the invention, failure and subsequent resurrection of the mythic Roland TB-303 Bass Line music machine in the last two decades of the 20th century. The narrative seeks to invite thoughts on technological mediation within product innovation and creative expression. The dead-panned 'documentary' video attempts to explore how and why creative tools fail and how increasingly more options, parameters or intermediaries devised during a tool's research and development phase don't necessarily lead to increased expressivity or virtuosity during the tool's lifetime of actual use, unless the super-structure of its cultural context is dramtically reconsidered.
July 27, 2005
Comprehensive overview of the TB-303 and its derivative products
If you're interested in the early history of ROLAND, the Japanese manufacturer of electronic musical instruments and the TB-303 Bassline, you'll enjoy this 20-minute video. The TB-303 and its design are described in depth, and many examples of popular music made with the machine are presented.
Four stars instead of five for two reasons: There are long stretches of black screen with only narration, and the opening sentences read by the narrator are painfully academic, with the stultifying grammatical rigor of a doctoral thesis. The video gets pretty cool after that, though.